Stringent new rules are needed to deal with increasing incidents of violence, verbal abuse and spitting, at GAA games.
Writing in today’s Irish Examiner, former GAA president Nickey Brennan said that while the issue of ill-discipline was relatively small compared to the number of games played, there had been a number of “heinous” incidents in the recent past.
Mr Brennan said that although the disciplinary process was fair, the rules needed to be updated to deal with “a plethora of heinous incidents which are disgusting, disrespectful and downright ignorant”.
The former GAA president said that while a number of incidents of racial abuse had received national media attention, he had heard of other similar incidents.
Mr Brennan said ensuring those responsible were dealt with harshly “poses a real challenge” for the GAA.
Enda McNulty, a former All-Ireland winner with Armagh and now sports psychologist to the Irish rugby team, said the lack of respect between players and referees and vice versa was something that needed to be addressed.
He said he has learned a lot in terms of the respect players and referees have for each other in rugby.
“I saw it in the Aviva stadium when Ireland played England and in Rome when we took on Italy,” said Mr McNulty. “The referee comes into the dressing room and both sides engage and communicate the issues in a very respectful and professional manner.
“There is not nearly that same level of respect in the GAA. There is a lack of respect for referees but there is a lack of respect from referees towards players and I have witnessed very negative remarks from referees when they communicate.”
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